There is much hand wringing about Facebook and its ever-changing privacy settings. Why just last month there was yet another attempt by Facebook to link users to purchases, this time at certain brick-and-mortar stores.
Now all this privacy hoopla started back when Facebook introduced Beacon, an advertising system that caused a serious online uproar. In my Business Ethics class, we took a look at the Beacon case study through four moral filters, utilitarian, justice, rights, and virtue, to assess how Facebook should have responded to the backlash. You can read our A-grade paper for our in-depth analysis.
Why I don't care about Facebook privacy
On a personal level, I wasn't that shocked over Beacon or any of Facebook's user privacy activities. Long ago, I lost my fear of the Internet and what I put on it. How? It's not what you expect. I do believe in personal privacy and I do have a high regard for the privacy of others. I even have a high level of personal privacy.
What I don't have is data on Facebook that I regard as personal. I make a conscious effort each time I share something online - be it Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or my many other accounts - to ask myself if I want to make this part of my life public. If the answer is "no", if I would not want to put it on a bulletin board outside my house, then I don't post it online. Not online but private - just not online to begin with.
So its that simple. I am not afraid of Facebook's privacy because I don't share anything I consider private. That's how you too can loose your fear of Facebook privacy.
I do care about data divisions
That is not to say that I want Facebook, my credit card company, and my ISP to band together and either limit my Internet experience based on my social network activities, past purchases, or browsing history. Where I do draw the line is when companies coordinate to present an altered Internet experience. Net neutrality needs to be defended and I am happy there are lawyers ready to sue to keep companies in line.
That and a few other reasons are why I support the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. While I may be casual in my care about privacy, I don't want everyone to be that way.